The event is focused on family fun, friends and raising funds for the Nootka Watershed Society, and it’s not limited to kayaks—all manner of human-powered watercraft are allowed, including paddleboards, rafts, canoes, pontoon boats, and row boats. The Society actively supports a number of key hatchery programs, including the Conuma River, which was the focus of this event. The weekend included a Saturday social and silent auction to support the initiatives. In all, the derby raised a total of more than $12,000 for the charity.
Participants traveled from throughout BC, Alberta, and Washington State to join the event and enjoy the camaraderie of the kayak fishing community. This event is truly highlighted by the number of families and kids fishing. The primary target is returning Conuma River Chinook & coho. With some early week rain, fish moved in and did not disappoint the participants. The sportsmanship and support for helping competitors land fish and the passing of rods to kids to ensure they have the experience of playing and landing a fish from a personal watercraft is always something to be witnessed.
This year’s event marked the biggest fish landed in the derby’s history.. Dave Sauve from Edmonton, AB was the winning participant, with a 29-lb Chinook and was awarded the grand prize of a Radar 135 kayak donated by Wilderness Systems.
In the coho category, the run had not yet arrived, and so only one fish was landed, which went to Shirley Partridge. Most exciting was the junior category (15 and under) which went to Emma Knight for her 17.8-lb Chinook.
The final winner of the weekend was Kevin Henderson who won the annual Buzz Bomb/Zinger trophy with a 24-lb Chinook, caught on a Buzz Bomb.